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EDA AmeriCorps VISTA Develops Interactive Map to Promote Regional Assets in Lower Rio Grande Valley

Explore RGV Logo In 2017, the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) awarded the Lower Rio Grande Valley Development Council (LRGVDC)  a grant for “Explore Rio Grande Valley” (Explore RGV), an interactive platform that showcases the history and attractiveness of South Texas. The project’s goal is to boost regional tourism and promote the active engagement of residents. To enhance the capacity of the team spearheading the Explore RGV project, LRGVDC partnered with the EDA VISTA Corps to onboard Carlos Garza as their first term Volunteer in Service to America (VISTA).Garza has spent the first six months of his AmeriCorps VISTA term working with the LRGVDC team to research the surrounding area and develop a comprehensive asset map of the region. Together the team identified about 500 sites throughout Willacy, Hidalgo and Cameron Counties to include in the program.

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Supporting Local Efforts to Create Great Jobs through Entrepreneurship: EDA Launches 2018 Regional Innovation Strategies Program Competition

EDA Logo Guided by the basic principle that sustainable economic development should be locally-driven, the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) works directly with communities and regions to help them build capacity for economic development based on local business conditions. EDA’s flexible suite of programs support the implementation of locally-devised economic development strategies to address a continuum of economic development challenges – from planning and technical assistance, to infrastructure construction - that make it easier for businesses to start and grow.

At the heart of these businesses are some of America’s most creative and hardworking dreamers and doers: entrepreneurs! Embodying the American spirit, these intrepid individuals tirelessly push forward every day, breaking barriers with innovative technologies and services to create the high-skill, high-wage jobs that help advance the U.S. economy.

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Spotlight: IEDC’s National Economic Development Week Celebrations

IEDC’s Economic Development Week Logo and Inspiration National Economic Development Week (#EconDevWeek), which took place May 7 to May 12 this year, was created by the International Economic Development Council (IEDC) in 2016 in order to increase awareness of local programs that create jobs, advance career development opportunities and increase the quality of life.

Over the span of two years, more than 500 National Economic Development Week campaigns have been created throughout the United States and Canada, creating millions of impressions, hundreds of news stories, blog entries, videos, events and many, many activities. Campaigns occurred in all 50 American states in 2017. More than 40 communities officially proclaimed the celebration week by signing resolutions, and many elected officials vocalized support for the profession and its contribution on their local economies.

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Success Story: North Carolina Economic Development District Develops Strong Comprehensive Economic Development Strategies to Shape a Prosperous Future

Centralina Council of Governments (CCOG) logo Robust, integrated regional planning is critical for successful economic development. The Centralina Economic Development Commission (CEDC), a 501(c)3 nonprofit affiliated with the Centralina Council of Governments (CCOG), covers a nine-county area around Charlotte, North Carolina. The entity, which serves as an EDA-designated Economic Development District (EDD), works to promote a diversified and innovative regional economic base, advocate for sustainable growth, support job development through expansion as well as retention and recruitment of business and industry. Central to the accomplishment of this mission is the regional Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS).

“CCOG and CEDC committed to design [the CEDS] plan as a guide for the entire region,” said Ron Smith, CCOG Executive Director. “Business executives, students, workers and all our communities should find value in the strategic content, data and goals of the Prosperity for Greater Charlotte CEDS.”

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Highlight: Ground is Broken on the Entrepreneur’s Sandbox Facility in Honolulu, Hawaii

The groundbreaking ceremony of the Entrepreneur's Sandbox Facility in Honolulu, Hawaii in April 2018 To young children, a sandbox is a shallow box in the ground partly filled with sand to play in. In the world of high-tech business, a sandbox is a virtual space in which new or untested software can be run securely. In Hawaii, the Entrepreneur’s Sandbox is an EDA/Hawaii Technology Development Corporation (HTDC) partnership that attracted private investment to provide the tools, programs and environment new entrepreneurs need to start and grow their businesses. The Sandbox is expected to help diversify the State of Hawaii’s economy and, when completed, the facility will be an innovation center where citizens can bring their ideas to life and learn to build products and develop creative media.

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Spotlight on Commerce: Doug Lynott, Director of Economic Development Integration, U.S. Economic and Development Administration (EDA)

Doug Lynott, Director of Economic Development Integration, U.S. Economic and Development Administration (EDA). I serve as the first-ever Director of Economic Development Integration (EDI) at the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA). EDA 's mission is to "lead the federal economic development agenda by promoting innovation and competitiveness, preparing American regions for growth and success in the worldwide economy." The mission of EDI is to support locally-identified priorities for regional economic diversification, growth and prosperity by increasing access to opportunity, facilitating enhanced collaboration, and reducing administrative burdens. Specifically, my job is to lead in the development and implementation of policies and methods that make it easier for:

  • Prospective applicants to successfully identify, apply for and manage multiple federal economic development grants and loans; and
  • Federal agencies with economic development resources to co-invest these in support of multi-faceted economic development projects to produce higher impact and overall benefit to local and regional economies.
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Regionally-Driven Economic Development Planning at the South Plains Association of Governments (SPAG)

The South Plains Association of Governments (SPAG) partnered with the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA)'s VISTA Corps to expand the promotion of economic development planning in the region's 15 counties. The overall goal is to build economic capacity in rural communities and enhance the quality of life throughout the region.

In their second year of participation in the EDA VISTA Corps program, SPAG chose Texas Tech University masters candidate Edward Floyd to serve as their VISTA member. For his service, Floyd was tasked with progressing the project from the first year's planning phase into the execution phase.

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Spotlight: University of Florida University Center Program Empowers Women in Innovation

With diversity critical to the success of innovation in the U.S., research cited by the University of Florida (UF) shows that there is still a significant disparity in the numbers of women entrepreneurs and innovators.

To help fill the gap and boost our national competitiveness, the UF EDA University Center (UFUC) created the Collaboratory for Women Innovators to help inspire, educate, and empower women to attain leadership roles in all phases of the innovation life cycle.

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Success Story: Purchase of Business with EDA Revolving Loan Fund Assistance a Smooth Process for New Owner of Durango, Colorado’s Waxed Salon

For Jenna Morrison, business ownership was not a lifelong goal attained after years of planning. It was an unexpected opportunity in which she has found her footing, and hasn’t looked back since.

Morrison is the owner of Waxed, Durango’s only fully esthetic service-focused salon. From hair removal to eyebrow sculpting, Waxed offers a full menu of services for their 2,000-plus-and-growing client base.

When Morrison learned that the previous owner wanted to sell in the fall of 2016, she said having someone else take over the business was never an option.

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Highlight: Women-led Economic Development Districts Making a Difference in EDA’s Denver Region

EDA-funded Economic Development Districts (EDDs) - multi-jurisdictional entities, commonly composed of multiple counties and in certain cases even cross-state borders - play a vital role in leading the locally-based, regionally driven economic development planning process that leverages the involvement of the public, private and non-profit sectors to establish a strategic blueprint for regional collaboration.

Many of the EDD’s in EDA’s Denver Region are led by women and they are using their unique perspectives to drive the planning process in their organizations’ service areas.

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Spotlight on Commerce: Pam Smith, Administrative Director for the Chicago Regional Office, U.S. Economic Development Administration

Pam Smith, Administrative Director for the Chicago Regional Office, U.S. Economic Development Administration I am very honored to participate in the Department of Commerce’s celebration of Women’s History Month. I joined the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) in October 2017 as the Administrative Director for the Chicago Regional Office. In this role I serve as the administrative advisor to the Regional Director and Area Directors, in the areas of human resources, budget justification and execution, information technology, procurement, property management, and facilities management. I also oversee the administration and program analysis for the region’s Partnership Planning Program and Environmental/Disaster functions.

Prior to joining EDA, I served in various leadership roles in human resources within the U.S. Department of Labor, including Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey Program Manager in the Office of Employee Engagement.

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EDA AmeriCorps VISTA Volunteer Works with Acadiana Planning Commission to Boost Region’s Capacity to Create Economic Opportunity

Acadiana Planning Commission CEO, Monique Boulet, EDA AmeriCorps VISTA Keithen Domingue, EDA Austin Regional Director Jorge Ayala and University of Louisiana Lafayette President APC Board Member-Ex-Officio, Dr. Joseph Savoie pose during press conference announcing federal economic development district designation. Keithen Domingue serves as the AmeriCorps VISTA Environmental Justice Community Organizer for the Acadiana Planning Commission located in Lafayette, Louisiana. His assignment is to work on the brownfield sites located in Lafayette’s Four Corners area, with a focus on the analysis and development of commercial cleanup and re-use.

Domingue grew up in Nashville, Tennessee where he witnessed wealth disparity in both urban and rural communities. Domingue's passion for community engagement was stirred as he grappled with the disturbing images of poverty.

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Spotlight: EDA and HBCUs: Partners for Inclusion and Competitiveness

Jonathan M. Holifield, Executive Director, White House Initiative on Historically Black College and Universities Over the past several decades, the need to address the twin troubles of income inequality and staggering wealth disparities has gained considerable traction in the U.S. These worries are exacerbated and long-standing among those principally served by historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs). Since 1837, HBCUs have been educating and preparing, primarily, but far from exclusively, African American students – nearly a quarter of HBCU students are non-Black – to contribute to the American experience. Specifically, these institutions help shape good citizens, as well as fill the nation’s dual pipeline of productivity: providing diversely talented employees and creating employment opportunities.

At the end of the day, economic development creates conditions for economic growth and improved quality of life. Such conditions include nurturing new community systems or ecosystems comprised of collaborative institutions focused on advancing mutual gain for the public and the private sector.

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Success Story: HBCU’s work to create wealth, builds healthy and sustainable communities

HBCU logo Historically Black Colleges and Universities have made extraordinary contributions to the general welfare and prosperity of the United States while producing many leaders in business, government, academia, and the military.

Through the implementation of the Executive Order Promoting Excellence and Innovation at HBCUs, President Trump hopes that these institutions will continue to serve as important engines of economic growth, public service, and intergenerational advancement. > Read more